Campus News

Catholic, secular student groups go head-to-head in annual debate

Three members from Badger Catholic and three students from Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics exchanged arguments about topics such as feminism, science versus religion and abortion.

Three members from Badger Catholic and three students from Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics exchanged arguments about topics such as feminism, science versus religion and abortion.

Image By: Evan Taber

What is evil? Is there a God? Does feminism have a role in the Catholic Church? These were just a few of many topics debated between two student organizations with wildly different answers to these questions, among others.

Badger Catholic and Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics went back-and-forth during their annual debate Tuesday. An audience that filled a lecture hall in Van Vleck to capacity directed their own questions toward the panels of debaters once the set agenda concluded.

Each organization provided three debaters who prepared notes and arguments in advance. Those representing Badger Catholic defended being guided by the laws of the church and morality as the best way to live. Whereas, those in AHA argued that a basis in scientific logic and rationality provides the most satisfying existence.

“Scientists are looking to answer the ‘how’ questions, like how are the stars born,” an AHA representative said. “With all religions, faith plays a significant role, specifically faith in a higher being, not based in logic.”

A Badger Catholic member rebuted, “We share a common ancestor. The church was the sole funder of science for hundreds of years. In the time period, ours was a lot more practical than science.”

Debaters covered abortion, domestic abuse, scientific processes and morality from their fundamentally different backgrounds. They answered and rebutted the relation between science and faith, and whether feminism can exist in the lens of Catholicism. There was some basic agreement between the groups, but clear disputes as well.

Both groups do, however, agree that this debate is undoubtedly important.

“The purpose of this debate is to understand more about the best way to live,” Audrey Hilts, a Badger Catholic debater, said. “One of the biggest questions that both sides has is whether or not there is a God. Answering that question determines the rest of the way you live your life.”

AHA representative Nicole Niebler agreed.

“Having a civil discourse on campus between people who have opposing world views can open up a dialogue for people to critique their own beliefs, to have more critical thinking and to honestly just to get to know people from the other side,” Niebler said. “It’s far too easy to judge somebody when you really generalize them. When you really get to know somebody and really understand what their side means, they become human.”

Once the debate came to a close, the groups parted amicably, thanking the audience for their time and consideration. Despite their disagreements, both organizations said the debate is an important source of philosophical discourse and wish for it to continue in future years.

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